The most important information the church could provide is how to be eternally saved from your sins through Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that we are all created in God’s image, but that through our own sins we have fallen short of His glory and become separated from Him. Since the penalty for sin is death, Jesus took on flesh so that He could die in our place, paying that penalty for each of us on the cross. You and I can avail ourselves of His gift of salvation by putting our faith in Jesus as God’s Son to save us, turning away from our sins and allowing someone to baptize us in water. It really is just that simple, and is exactly what Jesus said:
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.
- Mark 16:15-16
We see this pattern of the gospel (and those who believe it being baptized immediately) presented in the New Testament book of Acts multiple times. The first instance is in chapter 2. Peter, one of Jesus’ Apostles, preaches about Jesus, how He was crucified and buried, but then resurrected by God and made Lord of all (Acts 2:22-36).
When many in the crowd believe Peter’s preaching, they are pierced to the heart and ask Him what they should do (Acts 2:37). Peter answers, telling them to repent and be baptized in Jesus’ name (by Jesus’ authority) for the forgiveness of their sins and that they would receive the gift of God’s Spirit (Acts 2:38).
This pattern is repeated several times in the book of Acts:
- Acts 8:12 – Samarians hear the gospel of Jesus, believe and are baptized
- Acts 8:13 – Simon the sorcerer hears, believes and is baptized
- Acts 8:26-39 – an Ethiopian is taught about Jesus believes and is baptized
- Acts 9:1-19 – Jesus appears to Saul of Tarsus, Saul believes in him and is baptized
- Acts 10:24-48 – Cornelius and his family hear the gospel and are baptized
- Acts 16:14-15 – Lydia and her family are baptized after hearing and believing the gospel
- Acts 16:25-34 – the family of the jailor in Philippi hears the gospel and are baptized
This then, is the simple means for our salvation, that we believe in Jesus and based on that faith we allow someone to baptize us just as Jesus taught. Jesus’ apostle Paul wrote of baptism:
Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
- Romans 6:3-4
Jesus died on the cross, taking our punishment on Himself. Baptism brings us into that death so that our sins are covered by it. We rise from baptism, just as Jesus rose from death, to walk in the new life God gives us, free from our sin. This is how the New Testament teaches us to be saved.